Popular Mechanics is reporting on the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency also known as (DARPA) is interested in proposals for a Humvee that can fly over insurgents conducting night raids or whisk injured insurgents away from the battlefield. Textron, the defense company, says it has the solution—and they have the sketches to prove it.
Sure, the concept looks like a model car you might buy at Toys R’ Us, but the technology is sound, and the engineers think it could be ready to fly relatively soon, according to Steven Reid, vice president of unmanned aircraft systems at AAI, the Textron subsidiary that produced the Shadow UAV. “Envision a Humvee-like vehicle with wings that fold out from the side and attach just above the rear door,” Reid says.
Textron’s plan is to integrate its work on military ground vehicles and unmanned aircraft like the Shadow, and combine it with licensed technology from its partnership with Carter Aviation Technologies, a small Texas-based outfit working on a personal air vehicle for the commercial market. Textron is incorporating Carter’s slowed compound rotor technology, which uses rotors that are similar to helicopter blades but heavily weighted in the tips. As the aircraft takes off, the rotor provides lift, but as the vehicle gains speed, the rotor slows down and the wings provide lift.
The vehicle would have a roof panel that contains wings that rotate and fold out from the sides, as well as a mast that comes up and houses the slowed rotor system. Coming out the back of the vehicle is a shrouded, ducted fan that provides forward motion, and then a series of control surfaces that help regulate speed, as well as pitch, roll and yaw.